Ann Southworth

Professor of Law

Co-Director, Center for Empirical Research on the Legal Profession
Joint appointment in Criminology, Law & Society

Ann Southworth


Legal profession, professional responsibility, public interest law, conservative legal movement and cause lawyers


Professor Southworth teaches and writes on the legal profession and lawyers who serve causes, with an emphasis on lawyers’ norms, professional identities, practices, organizations, and networks.  She participated in designing UC Irvine School of Law’s required first year course on the American legal profession, and is the co-author, with Catherine Fisk, of an interdisciplinary textbook, The Legal Profession, which is now in its 2nd edition.  She has published numerous articles on civil rights and poverty lawyers, lawyers involved in national policy-making, and advocates for conservative and libertarian causes, as well as a book on the conservative legal movement, Lawyers of the Right: Professionalizing the Conservative Coalition (University of Chicago Press 2008). Her new book, Big Money Unleashed: The Campaign to Deregulate Election Spending, explores the roles that lawyers, advocacy organizations, and their patrons have played in the creation of Supreme Court doctrine invalidating campaign finance laws on First Amendment grounds. It was published by the University of Chicago Press in December 2023. 

Prior to joining the founding faculty at UC Irvine School of Law, she was a law professor at Case Western Reserve and an affiliated scholar at the American Bar Foundation.  She has been a visiting professor at Harvard and UCLA. She clerked for Judge Stanley A. Weigel and practiced at Morrison & Foerster, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the U.S. Department of Justice.  She received her B.A. and J.D. degrees from Stanford University.

Prior Courses:

Issues of Accountability for Lawyers and the Legal Profession, Legal Profession, Legal Profession: Advanced Topics, Civil Procedure, Cause Lawyering

(Log in to view full course descriptions in the UCI Law Course Catalog)

Prof. Southworth's Scholarly Papers on SSRN

  • April 16, 2024
    Speaker, Book talk presented by the Fordham Voting Rights and Democracy Project at Fordham University School of Law
  • January 6, 2024:
    Big Money Unleashed: Author-Meets-Reader, AALS Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C.
  • August 31, 2023:
    “Integrating Normative and Empirical Perspectives in Legal Ethics Training,” Research Committee on Sociology of Law, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
  • March 22, 2023:
    Discussant, Workshop on “Populism, Non-State Actors, and Legal Mobilization in Europe,” European University Institute, Florence 
  • March 30, 2023:
    Commentator, Book panel for Nomi Stolzenberg and David Myers, American Shtetl (Princeton U. Press 2021), USC Center for Law, History, and Culture
  • March 22, 2023:
    Discussant, Symposium on “Populism, Non-State Actors, and Legal Mobilization in Europe," European University Institute in Florence
  • October 6, 2022:
    Panelist, How to Make Productive Use of a Sabbatical or a Leave of Absence, AALS webinar
  • August 15, 2022:
    Judicial Review and Lawyer Accountability in the Campaign to Unleash Big Money in American Politics, International Legal Ethics Conference, UCLA
  • August 15, 2022:
    Round Table, Does Our Work Matter?, International Legal Ethics Conference, UCLA
  • July 10-12, 2022:
    Issues of Lawyer Accountability in the Campaign to Unleash Big Money in American Politics, Working Group of the Legal Professions Meeting, Coimbra, Portugal
  • July 16, 2022:
    $peech: The Campaign to Unleash Big Money in American Politics, AALS Annual Meeting, Lisbon
  • Jan. 7, 2022:
    Panelist, What Research Can Tell Us About How Law Schools, Lawyers, and Leaders Can Nourish Democracy, University of Arkansas
  • December 6, 2021:
    Commentator, Book Launch for Yves Dezalay and Bryant Garth’s “Law as Reproduction and Revolution,” UC Irvine Center for Empirical Research on the Legal Profession
  • May 2021:
    Discourse and Frames in Battles Over Campaign Finance Regulation in the Roberts Court, Law & Society Annual Meeting
  • Dec. 11, 2020
    Participant, Southern California Pathways Day, Online
  • Nov. 6, 2020
    Presenter, "The Strange Bedfellows Coalition of Parties and Amici in Citizens United," UCI Law Socio-Legal Studies Workshop, Online
  • Oct. 16, 2020
    Panelist, Campaign Finance and Other First Amendment Issues in the 2020 Election, Election 2020: A Call for Civic Engagement to Promote Democracy Speaker Series, Online
  • Jan. 5. 2018
    Discussion Group Participant, “Professional Identity Development Tools to Help Law Students Meet the Needs of Today’s Clients,” AALS Annual Meeting 2018, San Diego, CA
  • October 17, 2017 
    The Consequences of Citizens United: What Do the Lawyers Say? ITT Chicago-Kent College of Law, Symposium on the Supreme Court and American Politics
  • June 19, 2017
    The American Legal Profession in the New Millennium: Out of Many, One? (with Scott Cummings and Carroll Seron), Mexico City, Mexico
  • June 2, 2017
    Co-Host/Organizer, “Legal Education: The State of the Art,” Inaugural conference of UCI Center for Empirical Research on the Legal Profession (CERLP), UC Irvine School of Law
  • Feb. 24, 2016
    Featured Speaker, Public Interest Lawyering in the U.S. and Beyond symposium, Indiana University Maurer School of Law
  • Awarded a Visiting Research Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies at the University of London for Fall 2024.